C/O Westdale Cinema

The Westdale’s Film Talks invites people to remember the power of classic films through the Movies that Mattered and World Cinema Masterworks film series 

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we view film — microwave popcorn and Netflix have become staples to replace the in-person theatre experience, as countless release dates were pushed back and many major theatrical releases moved online. Now reopening its doors after extended closures, The Westdale is welcoming moviegoers back to the theatre and bringing magic back to classical movies with their new Film Talks series.

Located at 1014 King Street West in the heart of Westdale Village, the not-for-profit theatre is now back to running at full capacity after the most recent changes to provincial health guidelines.

The Westdale is excited to invite people back to partake in the communal film-watching experience. Neal Miller, The Westdale’s executive director, is glad they can be back to being a stage and a staple within the Hamilton community, where people can come to share in their mutual love of film and the arts.

“Movies are great to watch at home — they’re very convenient, you can press pause to use the restroom or let the dog out, but you can’t deny that something happens when you view [a movie] together, communally. You experience [the movies] in a different way when you hear other people laugh, take a deep breath or cry,”

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Film Talks is a new series at The Westdale, where a selection of classic films are screened with a discussion and critical analysis of the film included as part of admission. Film Talks was born from the COVID-19 pandemic, when the theatre was in search of a way to move their operations to a virtual format. 

“As soon as COVID hit in March of 2020, we understood that we didn’t have a venue anymore, so what we did was come up with Film Talks. We did them at first on Facebook live, where we selected a film, usually a classic, and then we would have [a film expert] talking,” explained Miller.

Given the success of Film Talks in a virtual space, The Westdale expanded the film series to include local filmmakers and artists though a Canadian originals series, as well as film noir and Christmas classics series. From Pulp Fiction to Lord of the Rings, the Film Talks series has a variety of films to choose from.

Film Talks now runs every Sunday at The Westdale, hosted by Fred Fuchs and Jeff Bender in discussions about the impact of films on the film industry and society. Fuchs is an independent film and television producer who hosts “Movies that Mattered,” a series in which he discusses films known for challenging audiences’ perspectives on topics such as sexism, racism, classism and xenophobia. Bender, a volunteer at The Westdale and film enthusiast, hosts “World Cinema Masterworks,” a series which highlights the work of international filmmakers.

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“If you haven’t seen the movie before, I welcome people to come to the Westdale’s beautiful heritage theatre and experience something new for the first time. Share your ideas, your first instinct, your first thought or your first emotion. For those who have watched the movies years and years ago, take an inventory of how you feel seeing it the second or third or fifth time . . . It’s where it hits you in the heart and in the brain,” said Miller.

Whether it’s your first or fifth time experiencing a classic film, The Westdale invites people to come with an open mind and engage with the classics. From crane shots to sweeping soundtracks and important ideas, Film Talks is an opportunity to share and reflect on the power of cinema with a community of cinephiles. 

The majority of the Film Talks showings are movies that can no longer be found on the big screen. The theatre invites students and community members to engage in film history, to talk, discuss, listen and share in the experience of watching good movies.

“The reception has been really excellent. We’ve gotten really good attendance and people are just happy to be out and having discourse in public [and] meeting with others . . . Get out and experience as much as you can, because you never know when you just have to stay home for two years. We all took for granted going to see a comedy show or a concert and then it got taken away. Time is fickle, so come out and experience something live and in-person,” said Miller.

The Westdale is operating in accordance with all provincial health guidelines. Moviegoers are required to reserve seating in advance of the screening and vaccine passports are currently required to enter the establishment. The theatre is also thoroughly cleaned between showings.

Moviegoers are invited to come with an open mind and experience the classics on the big screen once again. Now back as a Hamilton community staple, the Westdale’s Film Talks is a reminder of the power of film to change your perspective on the world. 

The Westdale brings the film adaptation of award-winning book Monkey Beach to Ontario audiences

On Nov. 6, The Westdale will screen the Ontario premiere of Indigenous supernatural mystery film, Monkey Beach. The film is adapted from the 2000 novel of the same name by Haisla and Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson. It follows Lisamarie Hill, a young woman with supernatural abilities from the northern BC community of Kitamaat Village, as she searches for her brother who disappeared at sea.

The film has been many years in the making. The movie’s director, Métis Cree filmmaker Loretta Todd, first heard about the book in the early 2000s, when someone brought to her attention that Eden Robinson’s style of storytelling is similar to her style of filmmaking. Eden, who aims to have all her adaptations handled by Indigenous filmmakers, quickly came on board when Todd approached her about making Monkey Beach into a film.

However, the journey to make the adaptation was long and mentally taxing. Todd spent many years pitching the film, with the support of people such as executive producers Fred Fuchs and Carla Robinson, a journalist who is also Eden’s sister. After many years of pitching, Telefilm Canada funded the film in 2018 along with a few other Indigenous films. Unfortunately, Todd still had to fight to tell the story the way that she wanted to.

“Like even with the storytelling, Loretta did have to fight really hard to get the story told the way she wanted to, in a nonstandard approach. And so, you can't just edit it the normal way and it’s going to take longer and it's going to take more resources. So she really did have to fight to get an adequate amount of resources . . . [You] definitely have to fight harder and convince people of the worth of a different kind of storytelling . . . [I]t was a battle in a lot of ways, but definitely, one that I think is worth it,” said Robinson.

[You] definitely have to fight harder and convince people of the worth of a different kind of storytelling . . . [I]t was a battle in a lot of ways, but definitely one that I think is worth it,” said Robinson.

The filmmakers continued to face challenges during filming and postproduction. For a supernatural movie filmed in a remote area, the budget was small. In addition, if they started filming any later, the movie may not have been able to shoot at the location.

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Towards the end of filming, it was announced that a liquefied natural gas pipeline would start building in the area, leading prices to rise almost overnight. As a result, Robinson described the film as almost a time capsule of what the area was once like.

However, regardless of this, filming in Kitamaat was always a priority for the filmmakers. Robinson noted that about a third of the budget went towards travel, but it was worth the cost because there was nowhere else that could capture the same emotions.

“[I]t's beautiful up there and it's unique. It's hard to get the same hauntingness or the same vastness, the same personality that the land gives . . . You know the animals, the characters, all of the characters have very strong storylines. It's not just the main characters, it's like [even] the land has a progression,” said Robinson.

“[I]t's beautiful up there and it's unique. It's hard to get the same hauntingness or the same vastness, the same personality that the land gives . . . You know the animals, the characters, all of the characters have very strong storylines. It's not just the main characters, it's like [even] the land has a progression,” said Robinson.

Filming on location fed the supernatural elements of the film. Not only did the land serve as the perfect backdrop but they also felt that the ancestors were helping them with the project. Even though they were filming in autumn, which is normally rainy and cold, they experienced extremely good weather that Robinson credited to the ancestors.

The challenges that the filmmakers’ overcame to make this movie mimics the journey of the main character, Lisamarie Hill. Lisamarie initially feels that no one is listening to her. However, much like the filmmakers who brought her to life, she persisted. The story acknowledges and highlights both the harm of the residential school system on today’s Indigenous peoples, but also demonstrates the resilience of these communities.

This is one of the reasons why the film is so important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous viewers alike. The important and universal themes in the film makes Fuchs, who is also the chair of The Westdale Cinema Group, so excited to bring the film to Hamilton. As many theatres in Ontario are currently closed due to COVID-19, the Westdale is going to be the only theatre in Ontario that screens the film.

“[T]he whole reason we bought [The Westdale] and restored it and it's a heritage-designated building was for exactly great movies like this. We want to showcase Canadian film, independent film, arthouse film and we want to provide as much diversity in terms of the films we select and be as inclusive as possible for all the different audiences,” explained Fuchs.

On the opening night of the film, singer-songwriter Gail Obediah will provide an introduction. After the premiere, there will be a question and answer session with Fuchs, Robinson and her daughter Leenah Robinson, who also stars in the film. There will be three screenings of the film from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8.

Fuchs thinks students should see the film because they will be able relate to the struggles of Lisamarie as she grows into adulthood. By watching this story, hopefully audiences will be able to tap into emotions that are better explained by art than by words.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton Film Festival moves online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Samantha McBride, Production Assistant

Every year film enthusiasts and creatives alike descend on Hamilton for the Art Gallery of Hamilton Film Festival.  This event promises local and international feature films, short films, competitions and other programming. The festival is also an opportunity for the Hamilton community to support independent artists and engage with an international circle of storytellers.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s festival has undergone major changes. The festival is currently running from Oct. 16-25, 2020 and is entirely online using the platform, Eventive. Most of the films are available on-demand but there are also live online events.

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“It's very important for us to continue to support the creators as well as help the community to see new films that they might not see anywhere else . . . [Films are] a window into someone else's world and someone else's experience and it's an important medium for us to understand the world around us and the experiences other people have in our world,” said Art Gallery of Hamilton Film Curator Ryan Ferguson. 

“It's very important for us to continue to support the creators as well as help the community to see new films that they might not see anywhere else . . . [Films are] a window into someone else's world and someone else's experience and it's an important medium for us to understand the world around us and the experiences other people have in our world,” said Art Gallery of Hamilton Film Curator Ryan Ferguson. 

One of the more notable live events is the festival’s youth film challenge, an opportunity for anyone under the age of 25 to submit their short film to the festival. The youth challenge is a chance for young filmmakers to showcase their work to the community and beyond. One film from the category will be selected to receive the audience choice award for standout film. This year’s youth and family film challenges will be livestreamed on the last day of the festival. 

The festival’s 21 short films are being offered at no cost in categories of six to seven films. These short films are eligible for the audience choice award, given to the film voted best by the audience. 

The festival also includes a number of works from local and Canadian filmmakers. One of these works is the world premiere of La Toccata created by Hamilton interdisciplinary artist Radha Menon. La Toccata is set in Sicily and explores the Western obsession with youth and beauty. It is particularly fitting at this time when the pandemic has exposed the individual and systemic lack of care for the lives of elderly individuals. 

“[I]t’s all about beauty so [the film is] made to look beautiful . . . because we are obsessed with beauty and it's that beauty that draws us in . . . [I]t has been created in our mind that the ageing process is something to be feared, mine included, everybody, it's so drilled into our psyche . . . [I]n my culture elders – well especially used to be, not so much maybe anymore because Western influences – were revered and the grey hair meant wisdom. But now, we shove our elderly behind closed doors, segregate them so we don't have to see them or be with them and it’s quite foolish because we could be learning from all the wisdom that they have,” Menon explained.

Menon was excited to premiere this work in the city that she calls home, even if it is only online. While she knows audiences will be missing the experience of being in a theatre, she thinks it is valuable to have the opportunity to see what creators are working on during this time. 

Ordinarily, the festival is geared toward the Hamilton community but as it shifts to an online event, other audiences have the opportunity to partake in the diverse programming lineup offered by the AGHFF. The move to online creates a more inclusive festival for those who would not ordinarily be able to visit the Hamilton area.

“It's exciting for us to have the opportunity to share what we do every year here in Hamilton with people all over the province," said Ferguson. 

“It's exciting for us to have the opportunity to share what we do every year here in Hamilton with people all over the province," said Ferguson. 

Overall, the festival promises an interesting online experience for audiences with exciting ways to get involved. Although audiences are not together to watch the films, the community remains united by the stories told.

Photo C/O Kaz Ehara/Verity Creative Inc.

Four days, seven shows and one location. For the past five years, the Frost Bites theatre festival has created a space for non-traditional theatre in Hamilton. Frost Bites focuses on site-specific theatre, which means that the shows are created for a particular venue. Therefore, shows can only be performed in one space and at one time. 

This year the festival is taking place in and drawing inspiration from the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. Claire Calnan, the Executive Director of Hamilton Fringe, explains that before they begin writing, artists are taken on a tour of this venue and asked to write shows inspired by the space, challenging the typical process of writing the script first and finding the venue second. The festival is run by Hamilton Fringe and was created to add a dash of fun, bite-sized theatre to the cold winter months, and to challenge local artists to create something that transforms a space.

“Site-specific work is really interesting for me because it can transform a location for you, so that whenever you go by that location in the future you will think about it differently, because you’ve seen something happen there, or you’ve thought about it in a different way. It kind of transforms a landscape, and it can transform the landscape of a city,” said Calnan.

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The festival also works with the Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training Program, a program run by Hamilton Fringe to develop new artistic leaders in the city. The youth that participate in the program assist with running Frost Bites, whether that be by helping to design the space or running the box office. In this way, Frost Bites not only fosters new theatre in the community, but paves the way for the future of the artistic community in the city.

One of the companies performing is DeVision, a collective of six McMaster Film and Theatre alumni: Adeline Okoyo, Maddie Krusto, Claudia Spadafora, Jamie Milay Kasiama, Brianna Seferiades and Yvonne Lu. Their show, Key Words Include, explores the complicated concept of femme bodies as marginalized and marginalizing. Krusto, now a Master of Arts student at McMaster in the gender studies and feminist program, says that the site-specific nature of the festival creates a unique opportunity to exercise their creativity.

“As an artist, it’s really interesting to not only have this mandate of ‘Make a show,’ but to be able to come in and be inspired by things in the room. For example, when we came in for the venue tour and came into the room, there’s a big glass case, and we walked in and we immediately were like, ‘We could put people in there!’ and, ‘What can we put in there?’ and we were climbing into it, and it’s just really fun to explore what that space offers . . . in some ways it’s very liberating to get to explore first, and to play in this space, and think about what we can do,” said Krusto.

“As an artist, it’s really interesting to not only have this mandate of ‘Make a show,’ but to be able to come in and be inspired by things in the room. For example, when we came in for the venue tour and came into the room, there’s a big glass case, and we walked in and we immediately were like, ‘We could put people in there!’ and, ‘What can we put in there?’ and we were climbing into it, and it’s just really fun to explore what that space offers . . . in some ways it’s very liberating to get to explore first, and to play in this space, and think about what we can do,” said Krusto.

Each group brings their own unique focus and ideas to their performances. DeVision knew that they wanted their work to examine ideas of subjection and consumption, but working in the building helped to mold and shape their ideas, evolving to fit the space that they are performing in.

“We already knew we wanted to do a show that was something about the consumption of femme bodies, and the way that we’re being consumed, and so now the show has evolved into what is our relationship to the land, both when us as subjects and bodies being consumed, but we’re also settlers and consuming the land and contributing to settler colonialism. So what is that relationship when you’re both marginalized, but also marginalizing,” said Krusto. 

Photo C/O Kaz Ehara/Verity Creative Inc.

Every show in the festival is performed in or around the same building, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. But each show is dramatically different, offering different perspectives on the same building. Another performer is Annalee Flint, the creator of Flint and Steel Productions. She says that her show was entirely inspired by the venue.

“I specifically didn’t want to have anything in mind already, I really wanted to take advantage of the site-specific nature of it. So once I found out what the venue was I had kind of a little lightbulb about something that inspired me, and then once I actually got into the space I had that go further . . .  So it really has been created solely with Frost Bites in mind and solely with this particular venue in mind,” said Flint.

Flint’s show is entitled amo, amas, amat, and it examines the meaning of love. 

“It’s kind of an exploration of love, but using words and language, and maybe almost looking at what happens when you can have all of these beautiful, poetic words and declarations or statements about love, but you maybe can’t actually feel it or realize it for yourself . . . You spend your time focused on the beauty of language and the beauty of how love has been expressed by other people, but then you sort of neglect to figure out how to express it in your own world,” said Flint.

In order to fit multiple pieces into the same evening, shows are capped at 20 minutes, and are performed several times over the course of the evening. Amo, amas, amat has a run time of just 12 minutes. The multi-layered, complex meanings of the show are condensed down into bite-sized pieces, leaving the audience to construct interpretations of their own.

“[The show is] going to have all of [the meaning] behind it, but what actually is presented to the audience I think is something that everybody is going to take away a different meaning, or a different bit of wisdom, or a different emotion,” said Flint.

Frost Bites focuses on fostering relationships between different artists, encouraging artists to collaborate. Each night, audience members will be led into the main space, where there will be a special performance by Indigenous artist Rod Nettagog. On Saturday Feb. 1, choreographer Kyra Jean Green will be doing a dance collaboration with Nettagog. Audience members will not be the only ones seeing this for the first time, however; neither performer has ever met or worked with the other before — it will be an entirely unique and one-of-a-kind performance.

“It’s hard enough to create traditional theatre in the city and make it be successful, so then if you decide to create something a little bit off the beaten track, or a little bit unusual, or you want to put things in unusual places, it gets really hard to find an audience for that. I think that what I like about Frost Bites is that’s exactly what everybody that’s going to Frost Bites wants. They want something that’s a little bit different, a little bit weird perhaps, a little bit non-traditional; they know that that’s what the festival is about,” said Flint.

The Frost Bites festival happens in a new building every year, meaning that each performance is specific to its environment. The unique nature of the festival means that the artists have the opportunity to experiment and explore with different forms of theatre. Like the Hamilton Fringe Festival, artists that participate in Frost Bites are paid for their work. In this way, artists are able to hone their craft while still being supported by the community. 

Frost Bites runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 at the Hamilton Waterfront Trust (57 Discovery Drive). Adult tickets are $25 and grant you admission to as many shows as you can manage in one night. If that does not work with your budget, it is possible to see a 1-3 of the shows on Jan. 29 as part of the preview, for free. For more information or to pre-book, email info@hamiltonfringe.ca with “preview night RSVP” in the subject line.

 

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Header photo: A still from the Speak Your Mind trailer

Hamilton has become an increasingly popular destination for production companies to film their projects. From Netflix’s Umbrella Academy to Marvel Studios’ The Incredible Hulk, pictures of all genres were created on the streets that we call home. One such movie is an indie project called Speak Your Mind, directed by Hamilton-born Cyrus Baetz.

Baetz called Dundas home throughout his high school years. When he graduated, he decided to pursue a path in public relations at Humber College. At Humber, Baetz tried out an acting for film and television course for a year and then decided to complete a course on intensive film studies at Ryerson University. Since Baetz completed his studies, he has focused on film, writing, directing and editing two short films and two feature-length projects.

Recently, the director has been working on his latest flick, Speak Your Mind. The film revolves around a struggling actor who was told by his therapist to express everything and anything that is on his mind. He struggles to walk the line between what is socially acceptable and what is honest enough to satisfy his own conscience. 

Speak Your Mind came from a desire to work with [Steve Kaszas]. I have worked with him on a short film called Blue Collar Buddha . . . He was so special, so talented in the audition and he showed up for the film and really sort of stole the show . . . so I wanted to work with him and I wrote an entire feature script,” said Baetz.

Writing film is a methodical process for Baetz. He likes to work and write by himself, setting time aside each day to chip away at scripts. However, for this production, Baetz was operating under a tight time constraint as he wanted to film in Hamilton, but he was set to move to Brooklyn at the end of 2017. Since he had started the script at the beginning of the new year, there was little time to make final revisions before going into production.

Indie films work on far different schedules than those of major motion pictures. Although each have their benefits, Baetz looks more to the indie side of the industry.

“The benefits of the more indie style of the film, once we auditioned the actors, we were able to do a pretty intense rehearsal process . . . it let us perfect the scenes and dig deep in the dynamics, that way we showed up on set and the actors felt comfortable and prepared,” said Baetz.

Post-production, Baetz sat down with his laptop and cut together his film from start to finish. This time, he was no longer pressed with a tight timeline. Finishing the final edit of a project that had occupied so much of his time, Baetz was able to reflect on the movie as a whole. 

“The film is designed to be provocative but also very entertaining . . . at the end of the day it’s a comedy, a bit of a dark comedy at times but it’s still a comedy,” said Baetz.

Thus far, the film has been well received,. At the Toronto Independent Film Festival, it won the best no-budget feature, an award for films with budgets under $25,000. While the film has been popular with audiences thus far, Baetz hopes that patrons walk away with their eyes opened to the times that we live in.

“[On] a more personal level and more one-on-one based level, the idea is that we assume things about people based on what we see superficially on the fronts they give us and we think we know people who we’ve been in relationships with and [in] friendships with for years, in fact a lot of the time we don’t. Sometimes the only way to really get to know people is to humble yourself and not assume you know them and ask from a place of vulnerability,” said Baetz.

The Westdale movie theatre (1014 King St. W.) will host a screening of Speak Your Mind followed by a question and answer period with Baetz. While everyone is encouraged to come out and watch the film, the director believes that students especially will take something away from it.

“This film is perfect for students because it’s a film about young people . . . who [are] struggling to find their place in society, in their social circles and find their voice and their confidence,” said Baetz. The emotional yo-yo process that comes along with that, it’s also really relevant in terms of the conversations that any socially and politically engaged student inevitably has been having. It deals with that in a way that genuinely attempts to be fair to all parties and tries to point it in a direction where there’s a compassionate dialogue and I think that’s something that could hopefully be a productive and entertaining fable for any student to enjoy.”

Speak Your Mind will be screened at The Westdale (1014 King St. W.) on Thursday, Nov. 14 and will be followed by a question and answer period with director Cyrus Baetz.

 

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Photos C/O Yvonne Lu, James Ramlal

By: Andrew Mrozowski

Stop. Take a second and look up from this article. You’ll most likely see everyone around you on some form of technology, be it on their phones, tablets or computers. We now live in a world where we are so heavily dependent on technology. According to Yvonne Lu, people should be more conscious about how technology affects their identity.

Originally starting off her undergraduate career in commerce, Lu realized her passion laid in a different faculty. Lu began working in marketing and communications but felt like something was missing. She decided to take on a double major between multimedia and theatre and film.

Now in her final year at McMaster, Lu decided to combine her two disciplines into one overall thesis, taking the form of an interactive multimedia installation and a physical performance called interFACE, as part of the School of the Arts Honours Performance Series.

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The concept for interFACE came to Lu over this past summer when she was employed by a music video company to be their social media coordinator. Although typically not very active on social media in her own life, Lu found herself getting jealous from the various platforms that she managed as there was an overall feeling that everyone was doing better than her.

“Although there definitely were positive and negative experiences, always being on social media and seeing that people younger than me were doing cooler things than I was, working with huge producers, big companies and getting more responsibility than I was… a lot of the times I felt jealous. It’s why I felt I was a step back, I understood why others were successful and a lot of it was trying to catch up with people,” explained Lu.

interFACE examines how young women interact with technology and how this oversaturation impacts their identity as they grow up. Stemming from a vignette of experiences, the multi-disciplinary art experience allows attendees to delve into the development of identity to look at similarities and differences between how we portray ourselves online versus in person.

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“The question to consider is whether or not social media and digital technology enables us to do more things, or if it consumes us and we are at the whim of the mass media,” explained Lu.

This form of installation is experimental as it features two parts. Viewers will first embark through an audio-visual capsule, which is an audio-sensory experience that saturates the audience in a world that Lu and her team have designed to convey the importance of why we should pay more attention to our own identities. Next viewers will be seated to enjoy the physical portion which expands on what they have observed in the audio-visual capsule.

“This is not something that you would see in traditional theatre. It’s not a narrative or linear piece. We are creating a visceral experience for both our collaborators and audience. We want them to feel that they are in the belly of the beast,” said Lu.

For the thesis student, what the audience takes away from the experience is the primary objective of this piece.

“There isn’t a specific message I want people to walk away with. It’s live theatre and it’s all about interpretation. For us, that’s kind of what I want audiences to walk away with. Questions of what they felt. It’s an emotional journey rather than a narrative,” said Lu.

Show times for interFACE will run on March 28 at 12:30 and 8 p.m. and on March 29 and March 30 at 12:30 and 7 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre in L.R. Wilson Hall. Admission is free.

 

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Photo C/O @djnontario

By: Donna Nadeem

The Disability Justice Network of Ontario is a Hamilton-based organization launched in September by McMaster alumni Sarah Jama and Eminet Dagnachew and McMaster student Shanthiya Baheerathan.

The co-founders initially got together because of their aligning interests. For instance, Jama was working with the McMaster Students Union Diversity Services as an access coordinator, trying to push the university to create a service for people with disabilities.

“I always think that there is more that could be done, that the institution doesn’t do a good job of supporting people with disabilities in terms of responding to professors who don’t want to accommodate. There is still a lot from what I’m seeing as a person who has graduated,” said Jama.

Last year, the co-founders received an Ontario Trillium grant over 36 months to create and run the organization. The basis of DJNO is to pose questions to the community of people with disabilities to see what it is they want to work on and how DJNO can use their resources to support the community it serves.

One of DJNO’s larger goals is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities who consistently get left out of conversations that affect their lives.

“Our goal is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities across the city and the province over time and to be able to hold the institutions and places and people accountable for the spaces that they create,” said Jama.

The research committee for DJNO has recently been working on data collection for a study on issues for racialized people with disabilities.

According to Jama, there is a lack of data collection on this subject.

The DJNO also has a youth advisory council that teaches people with disabilities how to politically organize.

In just a few months of being in operation, the DJNO has hosted several events, such as a community conversation event about the Hamilton light rail transit project, a film screening and panel discussion about Justice For Soli, a movement seeking justice for the death of Soleiman Faqiri, who was killed in prison after being beaten by guards.

The film screening and panel discussion was organized alongside McMaster Muslims For Peace and Justice and the McMaster Womanists.

On March 26, the DJNO will be hosting an event called “Race and Disability: Beyond a One Dimensional Framework” in Celebration Hall at McMaster.

This discussion, being organized in collaboration with the MSU Maccess and the MSU Women and Gender Equity Network, will tackle “the intersections of race/racialization, disability, and gender for all McMaster Community Members.”

Next week, the DJNO will also be organizing a rally with Justice for Soli in order to speak out against violence against people with disabilities.

The Justice for Soli team has been tirelessly advocating for justice, accountability, sounding the alarm of deeply systemic issues in the prison system, namely the violence that it inflicts on racialized peoples, and people with disabilities,” reads part of the event page.

For McMaster students interested in getting involved with the organization, DJNO has some open committees and is looking for individuals to help identify major community issues.

The campaign committee meets at the Hamilton Public Library monthly. Students can email info@djno.ca for more information.

 

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Photo C/O Women’s Adventure Film Tour

The Women’s Adventure Film Tour first premiered to a sold-out crowd in Sydney, Australia in May 2017. Since then, the film tour has left its home country and toured across Asia, Europe and North America. This spring, it is coming to Eastern Canada with a stop at Hamilton’s historic Playhouse Cinema on March 21.

The tour celebrates the extraordinary adventures of women by putting on a selection of short films. It is the result of a partnership between Australian company Adventure Film Tours and women-centred outdoors community She Went Wild. The Hamilton screening is open to all and will be two hours long with a short intermission. There will be also be raffle and door prizes offered.

Eastern Canada tour organizer, Benoit Brunet-Poirier got involved with the tour when he met Adventure Film Tours owner Toby Ryston-Pratt on a trip to Australia last year. At the time, Ryston-Pratt had been thinking about expanding to Canada. Brunet-Poirier discussed the opportunity with his partner Jamie Stewart and the two decided to take on the challenge of bringing the film tour home.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9HXWDFs4WM[/embedyt]

Adventure is important for the couple, who met while rock-climbing. The tour also combines their respective industries as Brunet-Poirier works in the entertainment industry and Stewart works for an outdoors retailer.

By showing women-centred films, the tour is helping break down barriers in the outdoors industry. Brunet-Poirier noted that women are historically thought of as individuals to be protected and this series of short films challenges that notion.

“So I really like the idea of having a woman-focused film tour just because… although women are starting to be represented more in adventure stores and in the media and in film, I do think that there still is a misrepresentation or underrepresentation of women. And so this film tour is just putting… the spotlight on women,” Stewart said.

The couple did their first screening for the film tour in Ottawa last fall. They are taking the feedback from that event on the road by increasing the number of films in order to show a few shorter ones and playing well-received flicks.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DE3F336tVQ[/embedyt]

One such film, titled Finding the Line, follows professional skiers and sisters Anna and Nat Segal across Canada, France and the United States. While the film’s humour and thrilling 80 degree slopes make it an exciting watch, it is one of Stewart’s personal favourites because of its narratives of overcoming fear and sisterly bonding. It is these narratives that Stewart and Brunet-Poirier feel will resonate with audiences.

“We let go of some films that were focused on physical achievement to give room to films that are focused on the psychological or social achievement of other women. So there are films about BASE jumping and extreme sports, but there are also films that are more accessible,” said Brunet-Poirier.

In this way, the films should provide something that appeals to everyone, regardless of activity level or interest in extreme sports. The couple hopes that the pictures inspire audiences of all ages to attempt new things or take on a challenge that frightens them.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcWXn_Ydxuc[/embedyt]

Stewart and Brunet-Poirier also focused on ensuring that the films showcases diversity. From a film about an older, blind woman learning to swim for the first time to another about the challenges a lesbian couple faces in a mountain biking community when they open a pizza shop, the films capture a range of identities.

The films were selected from Adventure Films Tours’ global database. While the couple chose some films based in North America in order to be more local, their priority on diversity led them to select films from around the world.

“I am a Chinese woman here in Canada and… we really wanted to showcase diversity and acceptance of everyone… [T]hat's the root of our cause. [We] really try to reach as many people as we can and showing representation in adventure sports of all types of people,” said Stewart.

By centring the diversity of women, Women’s Adventure Film Tour pushes back against the perception of the outdoors community as male-dominated or predominantly white. The films aim to be a comprehensive show of the physical and mental strength of women.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Natalie Clark

When the quaint and beloved Westdale Theatre closed down in early 2017, residents of the Westdale community and many McMaster students were especially upset. Although fairly run down, the Westdale had been the community’s hot spot for Friday night dates, Hollywood’s must-see films and the best popcorn in town for as long as anyone could remember.

On Feb. 14, the Westdale community celebrated the long-awaited re-opening of the Westdale Theatre. Guests were told to dress in period attire for a special event accompanied by cocktails and a screening of the 1942 classic, Casablanca. The event also featured a silent auction, where guests could explore the new and improved venue while admiring local Hamilton art.

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With searchlights lighting up the night sky and a red carpet gracing the floor of the doors of the theatre, the Westdale certainly dressed to impress for their grand re-opening. The 350 ticket event sold out in two weeks.

For the past 30 years, the Westdale was owned by an elderly man in Toronto. It wasn’t until he passed away that his family put the theatre up for sale, allowing new owners to claim the theatre, known as the Westdale Cinema Group.

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“An enormous amount of changes were made… the theatre was in terrible condition, we spent 2.5 million dollars restoring it,” mentioned Fred Fuchs, chairperson of the Westdale Cinema Group.

“Besides equipping it with state-of-the-art projection, screens, new seats, new sound, new acoustic panelling, we also had to completely redo the air conditioning and the heating, the electrical system, the roof, the bathrooms — it was a complete overhaul of the entire theatre,” said Fuchs.

About two years later, the Westdale Theatre is back open for business, and the community is thrilled. Westdale resident and Silhouette alumnus, David Simpson, had one word to describe the re-opening event, “fabulous”.

“I think that the re-opening will be great for Westdale and for McMaster too, creating a hub for the community,” said Simpson.

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Members of the Westdale community are thrilled about the re-opening of the theatre but are also admiring the other advantages that the theatre welcomes to the community.

“It’s wonderful to see it revitalized, and to see hundreds of people in the theatre is great,” said Vivian Lewis, a member of the Westdale community.

“I think that the theatre is going to bring a diversity of films to the community,” mentioned Lewis. “Right now in Hamilton we just have lots of box theatres that are showing the same thing on every screen, and so this theatre will be our chance to see more art films and more alternative films that aren’t currently available in Hamilton.”

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Aside from standard film movies, the Westdale Theatre will also be hosting frequent live music shows, talks, performances and other special events.

“I’m excited about the idea that it’s not just a movie theatre anymore and that it’s also performance based,” said Sue Trerise-Adamson, another Westdale resident.

“I think that is a really good idea, and it expands all the possibilities of the theatre… I think it’s a real anchor for the whole community of Westdale,” mentioned Trerise-Adamson.

Westdale locals have already begun visiting the theatre for their regular screenings and are grateful to have the theatre back in the community.

Experience the new and improved Westdale Theatre on your own and check out all available screenings and shows on their website: https://www.thewestdale.ca/now-playing/

 

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[spacer height="20px"]The AGH BMO World Film Festival is Hamilton’s largest Festival of international, independent, and Canadian film. This year over 60 films will be screened between October 11-21, and in honour of its 10th anniversary there are some extra-special things happening throughout the 10-days.

AGH Film Curator, Ryan Ferguson, works year-round selecting an impressive program of films that not only celebrate the power and beauty of film, but also highlight different issues in our present-day society.

There are many films for the LGBTQ+ audience this year. Love, Scott is a documentary about Scott Jones, a gay musician who was the victim of a hateful attack and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Scott will be attending the screening on October 17 for a Q&A period and will talk about his journey. Other highlights include: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (October 15) , starring Chloe Grace Moretz, and Rafiki (October 19), a film banned in its home country of Kenya. The closing-night party of the Festival will feature a screening of the documentary Paris is Burning (October 20) with a drag-show hosted by Hamilton’s own queer event planners #AdamandSteve.

If you like a little fun with your films, one of the Festival’s cult-classic themed events are sure to be an excuse to get a group of friends together. On October 13, join Girl on the Wing for a romantic screening of the 90s classic Romeo and Juliet set in a church filled with candles and other atmospheric touches. For another blast from the past, grab tickets to see Spice World on October 17, featuring the Spice Girls during their peak in the 90s. To cap off the evening, join us for 90s karaoke afterwards at Toast, a local wine bar, hosted by The Eye of Faith.

A film festival that takes place in October wouldn’t be complete without some horror flicks! You can expect classics like the haunted ballet academy flick Suspiria (October 11), unexpected beauty in the offbeat November (October 21), and a don’t-mess-with-me Nicholas Cage in the action-packed Mandy (October 13). These are all sure to get your Halloween season off to a spooky start.

To find out more information about the AGH BMO World Film Festival, head to www.aghfilmfest.com for the full schedule and to buy tickets. Follow along on Instagram @at_theagh or with the hashtag #aghfilmfest. Remember the days where you had to go to a video store to pick out a movie? Check out the Film Festival Video Store Pop-Up at Redchurch Cafe & Gallery (68 King St East), an interactive experience complete with retro VHS cases for each film! Take a look – with so many options at this year’s Festival, you’re bound to find a film that speaks to you.

Screening Locations:

 

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